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A Beginner Companion to Arabic Manuscripts pdf

  • Book Title:
 A Beginner Companion To Arabic Manuscripts
  • Book Author:
Muntasir Zaman
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A Beginner Companion to Arabic Manuscripts Adapted from an Intensive on Arabic Manuscripts by Shaykh Ṣāliḥ al-Azharī by Muntasir Zaman


Book Contents

  • Preface 3
  • Key Terms 5
  • Gathering Manuscripts 8
  • Styles of Writing 13
  • Scribal Terminology 17
  • Extra Components of a Manuscript 23
  • Audition Certificate (Ṭibāq al-Samāʿ) 26
  • Book Title 30
  • The Scribe 32
  • Dates 34
  • Stages of a Manuscript 36
  • Arrangement of Manuscripts for Editing 40
  • Conclusion 42
  • Case Study 44
  • Bibliography 49

Gathering manuscripts

When a researcher sets out to work on a manuscript of a book or simply wants to locate a passage in it, it is impera- tive to gather as many manuscripts of the book as possible. Common sources for locating manuscripts are the fahāris (catalogs).

It should be noted the information found in manuscript catalogs often contain inaccuracies that stem from a poor reading of the manuscripts and citation of unverified information.

Among the most commonly used catalogs is the Ger- man Orientalist Carl Brockelmann’s (d. 1956) Geschichte der Arabischen Litteratur, translated into Arabic as Tārīkh al-Adab al-ʿArabī.

The Turkish scholar Fuat Sezgin (d. 2018) wrote Geschichte des Arabischen Schrifttums, translated into Arabic as Tārīkh al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, in which he builds on and critiques Carl Brockelmann.

These are two of the most common books consulted for locating manu- scripts. However, they are outdated, and the databases on existing manuscripts have developed extensively.

Subsequent works include Muʿjam Tārīkh al-Turāth al-Islāmī by ‘Alī Riḍā and Aḥmad Ṭawrān. Another exten- sive, updated mega-catalog of manuscripts is al-Fahras al- Shāmil li al-Turāth al-ʿArabī al-Islāmī al-Makhṭūṭ by Muʾas- sisat Āl al-Bayt. None of the aforementioned works are exhaustive; they are only starting points.

To gain familiarity with the libraries throughout the world and their respec- tive catalogs and manuscripts, one may read World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts by al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, translated into Arabic as al-Makhṭūṭāṭ al-Islāmiyya fi al-ʿĀlam.

There are invaluable online resources to obtain digital copies of manuscripts, such as world_library/ and php.

[A researcher should always remember how potentially misleading manuscript catalogs can be. The al-Fahras al- Shāmil catalog details a manuscript of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim that is dated to 368 AH, a century after Imām Muslim’s demise, located in the Alexandria Municipal Library in Egypt.

However, the information provided in the catalog is incor- rect. The manuscript held in the Alexandria Library (item no. 836B) is correctly dated to 368 AH and is even titled as the thirteenth codex of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim on the cover page, but it is not a manuscript of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim.

Rather, it is a partial manuscript of Qāḍī Isḥāq al-Bustī’s (d. 307 AH) Qurʾānic exegesis.

It is possible that the curator who labeled this manuscript confused the two books due to similarities in their structure: al-Bustī’s work is a transmission-based exegesis (maʾthūr) filled with chains of transmission that resemble the structure of Muslim’s Ṣaḥīḥ. Then the cataloger recorded the available data without verification.]

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